Category Archives: About My Work

Excuses, Excuses…and a Different Approach

Hello again, readers!

The last two weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind, and I admit, a lot different than expected.

As you may recall, I had big plans to start my next book in February, the goal being a first draft by mid-April and in turn, a daily devotion to my protagonist’s cause. This plan started off beautifully—on February 1st, I began drafting!

And then stuff happened.

I had a cat come down with pneumonia, which was better than the original diagnosis, mind you—immediate heart failure—which then led to adverse reactions to antibiotics and twice-weekly vet visits. Meanwhile, work grew unusually stressful, my sleep patterns got seriously whacked (read: 5 hours was a good night), and somewhere in there, I irritated a nerve in my elbow. Yes, she-of-random-and-bizarre-ailments had actually leaned on her elbow enough numb out her hand for two to four hours at a time…so I write this post to you accompanied by my beautiful and temporary new friend, a splint. Yay!

But you know how it goes—one must write to be a writer! So I kept trying to write. I really did. I put in 3,000 words in two days as the mess started. I wrote a blog post aligned with Valentine’s Day. I sat in front of this computer almost every morning at the ridiculous 4:45 time I wake up to do this mad thing we do, but I was coma writing—and not the good kind of coma writing, where one is just writing in a creative trance. Nope, this was pure and simple coma writing, lacking quality, form, and inspiration of any kind.

But I sat there. I typed. I stared at the wall. I typed. I stared again. I sighed a lot (more than one really should). Somewhere in there I thought about a couple anthologies I’d planned all along to write for and submit to “on the side” while I wrote my book—and I realized at that moment, I was really excited to write these short stories that kept popping into my head. Maybe with my rollercoaster real life already clogging up my brain, and my Glamour horoscope validating my concerns by telling me to do a great job on one thing instead of a shoddy job on several, I had to attack this a little differently.

So, I closed up the file for my charming protagonist, Simone, and opened a couple new ones for the short stories. In just a few days, I wrote them. Fast. Thoughtfully. Fairly darn cleanly, I might add. And I smiled the whole time!

Then I got on a plane—leaving my almost-out-of-the-woods cat with a capable and caring cat sitter friend—and went to visit my parents in southern Nevada. It turned out to be an incredibly relaxing trip. We walked, talked, and played cards while yelling at the Jodi Arias trial on tv. It was perfect! There was also a lot of good food, coffee, and rum and cokes, courtesy of my master chef and perfect latte-making dad. 🙂

These extremely therapeutic days dropped me at home four days later, ready to edit the shorts (which I did) and prepare them to submit (which I am). So what does this mean?

Well, March 1st is Friday, so it seems like a good time to go back and focus on that novel I intended to write. It might be a month later than planned, but now that my table’s really clear, I think it will play out much smoother in the long run. Phew!

As my Cascade Conference mentor, Ken Scholes, once said, you have to “prioritize your anxieties.” I’m pretty sure he got that from his mentor, Patrick Swenson.

No matter who said them—they seem like smart words to keep passing along, if you ask me!

🙂

Happpy writing, everyone!

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Whole Lotta Love (in Books)

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, a holiday that tends to divide most of the population. Those who love it do so either because they enjoy the romantic elements, or because they are madly in love and appreciate a reason to celebrate that feeling. Others hate it, for reasons as diverse as single-dom to the commercialization of love. I myself always fall with one foot in either camp—while I tend to be fairly evasive when it comes to relationships, I’m also a giant mushball when I’m actually in one.800px-Antonio_Canova-Cupid's_Kiss-3-Hermitage

So, in the spirit of all things loving, romantic, heart-filled, and Valentine’s-oriented, I figured today’s post should address love. Specifically, love in one’s novel.

Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to be a romantic fantasy writer. That is, I wrote Kyresa, a romantic fantasy novel. I’m quite proud of that little baby, and still aim to find her a home, but in the time since finishing the book I’ve stumbled upon some darker roots. This could be a combination of bad love memories, or maybe just an imagination that lends itself to sinister undertones, but dark speculative fiction is the direction of my next novel.

And yet to my surprise, as I set about outlining early last week, I discovered…my story had an embedded romantic plot line! At first, it felt counterintuitive, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured most everyone experiences love, is in love, or wants to be in love, thus making it a natural element for even the least likely of tales. In fact, when I got right down to it, I realized that most of my favorite books included a romantic plot or subplot: The Black Jewels Trilogy, Jane Eyre, The Robber Bride, and The Demon Lover, for example, all have romance weaved into the tale (or as the main tale). The little anti-romantic in me took a pause after that discovery and screamed, “But I like my stories really dark!” Yes, indeed, they can still be dark, but even the deadliest of creatures needs love! 🙂

The element of romance in one’s novel is of course dependent one how big a role it will play in the tale. Is the relationship already established, with the two characters bonded and holding strong together as they face the real essence of the plot? Or, will they meet in the course of the tale, taking the reader along the romantic journey with them? More questions arise as you delve into fictional romantic elements—will their love be traditional or not? Will they fight their romance, or will they fall epically fast? Will their love carry through the whole novel or will the breakup happen in the tale? And of course there comes the big authorial decision (heck, the big romantic life decision)—should they have sex?

While I knew before ever starting to write Kyresa that the romance would begin with a meeting and transform into a full-blown, serious relationship, I’m not as certain where the love story in my current book will lead. Will there be a meeting? Yes. Will there be a love affair? Yes. Will there be sex? Uh, with a succubus as a main character, I’m pretty sure the answer to that is straightforward. Still, do I have any idea what will happen in the long-term? Not a clue. I guess at this stage in my writing, I like my romantic journey to be as mysterious as it is in real life!

So what about you? When you write, do you tend to include romantic plot lines or subplots? Do you have the entire relationship mapped out before you go, or do you sit back and let it unfold as you write?

For those of you who do tend to weave romance into your tales, I’d like to refer you to a lovely little post on romantic plots by writer and blogger Katherine Checkley. It’s an oldie but goodie, and I think worth a read here. Speaking of love—I’d like to thank Catrina Barton, since she kindly nominated me for two blogger awards, the Versatile Blogger and the Very Inspiring Blogger! I’ll try to address both in a future post, but for now, thanks so much, Catrina!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on writing romance in the comments section below…and in the meantime, love, kisses, and romance to all—in your books and in real life. 🙂

800px-Heart_of_the_Milky_Way_-_Valentine's_Day

 


Where Am I Going, Where Have I Been?

Hello again, Readers!

It’s been a long time away, and I have so many things to share with you! For starters, yes, that title is a reference to the masterful Joyce Carol Oates and her beautiful work, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Has my time away been like 15-year-old Connie’s journey in the story? Golly, no. But it has been a time of discovery in all things writing, and since Joyce Carol Oates’s talent is incredibly admirable to me, I would say that my time away has inspired me to dive headlong into my writing. (And if you are unfamiliar with Ms. Oates, check her out!)

So, what have I been doing for the last six weeks while I broke away from this blog?

TONS.

Here’s a quick list. I…

  • Finished editing a novel-length side project
  • Edited three short stories
  • Researched markets for six short stories and submitted three others
  • Cleaned up my website
  • Started tinkering with ideas for the novel I’ll be starting in February
  • Received super exciting news about a short story I wrote (the official news comes out in May/June; I’m leaving you hanging, sorry!)
  • Read oodles of stories and books, and I mean oodles—a book of short stories, a few stand-alone shorts, a literary novel, an amazing dark fantasy novel, and two YA novels, all of which were great examples of solid writing (which in turn makes me a better writer), and
  • Researched and read a lot of blog articles about fiction authors maintaining blogs, such as these three thoughtful posts by Joel Friedlander, Rachelle Gardner, and Jody Hedlund.

This last bullet point actually led me to some deep thinking about the whole blogging process. I’ve missed posting regularly, but mostly I’ve missed you, my readers! On the other hand, I found in the last six weeks that I was not only less stressed, but I was extraordinarily productive with all my writing plans. When my alarm blared at 4:45 so that I could squeeze my 30 to 45 minutes of writing in before work, I was actually less likely to sleep through it, chuck it across the room, or even allow Sienna Cat to fight with it and bat it off the nightstand (she’s apparently not into the noise). I also found myself coming home more excited to tack on more time, often spending at least an hour, if not two, on something writerly before I fell into a deep, idea-rich slumber.

Another thing I noticed was that, while I’m enjoying reading the blogs that I follow, a lot of posts reflect similar information. That is, an idea, or topic, gets addressed by many of us at some point, often in a short window of time. Most of the time it’s not intentional, but all of the time, it’s inevitable—take for example the three articles I read in a six-week window on authors blogging, and if you google the topic, you’ll find many more. The good news is that this provides interesting perspective and commentary from each author, but the bad is that the whole point of blogging, or one’s “platform,” is to showcase something special and uniquely you.

This put me at a bit of a crossroads. The creative boon is the key piece—I am, after all, a writer, and the only way to be a writer (and eventually get published) is to be a writer and write—and the burst I’ve had in the last six weeks has been amazing. I do enjoy blogging, but for different reasons—namely, connecting with and hearing comments and thoughts from you, my readers. Clearly, some sort of compromise was in order. Would I quit blogging forever? Ha. NO. Would I give up all the writing creativity? Double ha. HECK NO. But…

What I need to do is write.

Frequently.

Constantly.

Repeatedly.

That said, I’ve decided to scale back my blogging a bit. From here forward, I’ll be posting the second and fourth Wednesday of every month. I hope in this way I will (a) still be able to connect with you, providing fresh, informative posts, and (b) be able to continue working on my writing at the productive pace I’ve experienced since the beginning of December. It was a tough decision, I’m not going to lie, but a necessary one.

Knowing that many of my readers are also writers, I’m curious what all of you think about the burning to write or blog question.

Do you find blogging takes away from your writing? Do you love blogging so much/enough that it doesn’t matter? And also, why do you blog?

Please share your thoughts below, I’d love to know!


Break Time

Hello Readers!

After some lengthy deliberation, I’ve decided I need to take a temporary break from this blog. It was a tough choice—I love everything about blogging, including hearing the wonderful thoughts you all have to share—but it’s also a necessary one. Between work and home I’m running around like a maniac, and I’m simply not getting enough creative writing in. This year has been all about me rediscovering my passion for writing, and while I’ve made huge progress, I want to spend the rest of the year making more significant strides toward crafting a body of work.

I plan to return at some point in January with an update and a potential new blogging schedule. I’ll still be accessible on Facebook and Twitter (though I’ve been a terrible tweeter these last few months—bad bird!—but this will change), so please feel free to find me on any of these networks: my Facebook page, my regular Facebook, or on Twitter. You can also sign up for my newsletter by sending an email to EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

If you’d like to know more of what I’m writing, please check out my Flash Fiction Works. I’m working on longer pieces currently, but these should give you a feel for what I’m up to while I’m away.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season. May the end of 2012 bring you much happiness, and the start of 2013 bring hope for more to come!

Best wishes,
Eva


Why Aren’t I Doing NaNoWriMo?

It’s November—the month of writing mayhem! 🙂

If you’re a writer, you are well aware of NaNoWriMo. For those who aren’t familar, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, which rolls around every November. It’s a time when many writers take on the challenge of crafting 50,000 words of a novel (broken up over 30 days, that’s an average of about 1,667 words per day). For experienced and new writers alike, this month is a popular one to dive into the challenge—and to help keep authors motivated and on task, the NaNoWriMo website hosts special day challenges, word counts, forums, and lots of support. In many ways, it’s a great banding together of the writing world.

So as many writer friends (and non-writer friends alike) have asked, why aren’t I doing it?

For the last two years, I’ve intended to participate in NaNo. While 50,000 words is only the start of a novel, I liked the idea of a camaraderie with other writers involved. Writing is a completely independent art—which is why we often encourage one another to attend conferences and workshops, or to start critique groups so that we don’t disappear in the confines of our offices and forget to share our work with one another. With this collaborative spirit in mind, it seems I should have signed right up.

Last year, I was heavy in the throes of finishing my first real novel, Kyresa. I toyed with the idea of stopping to create something new during NaNo, but doing so would have stalled my momentum on a book that had to finally be finished. I’m glad I held firm on that.

This year, I considered the idea again—especially because this time, one of my closest friends (a romance writer) decided to go for it. Cheering each other on like we did in high school sounded superb.

But again I had to pause and take a deep breath while I thought about the possibility. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I just started my new gig as an English teacher—which I’m loving—but it’s still taking some adjusting (read: paper grading) as I try to also maintain my writing life. In addition, I’m still in that unpacking stage of my recent move (read: curtain rods remain on the floor!).

And of course, there was the bigger issue: I promised myself after my July writing conference that I would take some time to craft shorts and finish editing another piece until the month of February. I made this decision with the goal of learning how to start and finish, over and over, so that I would never drag a novel out like I did with my first one again. Thus, February has long been set in my head as the month I intend to start my next full-length piece. 

I am a woman of strong conviction once I make up my mind, but until then I’m as indecisive as they come. So I wavered back and forth on this, between the lure of the “team,” the best friend, and even multiple blogger pals getting involved…plus those nifty word counters sure are fun…

And then I put my foot down. My enthusiasm over building a collection of shorts is high, and some small semblance of sleep is important to me in this adjustment period to my new house and job. So…no NaNoWriMo for me, and I’m okay with it!

Instead, I’m opting to stand on the sidelines and cheer all my fellow NaNo writer pals on. I’ve been the biggest cheerleader for those I support for as long as I can remember (which is funny, since I never was a real cheerleader), and there’s no reason I can’t do that for all of my NaNo-ing peeps. Go team! While all of you are working away at creating the awesome 50,000 words you’re aiming for this month, I’ll still be writing alongside you. I’m not counting my words, and I’m not building a novel just yet, but I’m excited for every one of you. I’ve got pom-poms in the air, foot kicked high, and pigtails swinging in the breeze. Ra-ra. Yay-you. Goooooooo Team Writers!

Keep up the good work, everyone! Can’t wait to hear about your NaNoWriMo progress. 🙂


How I Edit

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

If I don’t answer my phone today, it’s because I’m editing. Or, I jumped out the window. ~Me
As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission to edit my work in progress, Kyresa. There are some steps left before I can actually call the book “finished,” but I am pleased to announce the editing stage is officially done! Woo hoo!

Editing is a funny thing—it is imperative for crafting a quality piece, but it’s also a grueling, tedious stage that must usually happen several times. While every writer edits, I don’t believe every writer edits in the same manner. Today I thought I’d share the process I used for the most recent edit of Kyresa.

First of all, this last edit was more of an edit/rewrite/edit mashup. I had an idea that I might potentially want to change the ending, but I knew that I couldn’t make that decision until I re-immersed myself in the story. When I started, Kyresa was 111,400 words. That’s about 404 pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. I printed it out 2-sided and put it into a binder that I could tote around wherever I went. I armed myself with three goals:

  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.

Then I set five more goals to work through as I edited:

  • If there’s a simpler way to say it, find it.
  • Lay off the dialogue tags if the speaker is clear. (“You sure do talk a lot, Eva,” THE BLOG READER SAID.)
  • Keep an eye on adverbs, because Mr. Stephen King thinks they’re the devil and he probably knows his devils writing horror and all.
  • Don’t rob the reader of the right to come up with her own image of the person/place/thing by giving too many showing details. (I am a control freak, so over-explanation can happen.) (Like that last parenthetical comment.) (Sorry.)
  • Decide if I want to change the ending. (I wrote a note to myself about 20 pages after where I thought I’d like to end it that said, “Are you feeling an ending change, Eva?”—and yes, this is actually written on the page.)

So, I went through the whole book this way, marking all over it with a variety of pens. Some pages were just a little marked up, and some looked like I had a blue/green/red pen party and just dripped the ink everywhere like a crazy person. And when I made my way to the moment of ending-change decision, I opted to go for it!

This is where the “rewrite” part of the mashup happened. I pulled all the scenes I wanted to delete out of the binder and tucked them in the back, but kept the scenes between that I thought were useful. Then I blared Clannad’s “I Will Find You” two times as theme music before setting off to write the new ending. (I generally do not write to music, but sometimes I will listen to it and run it through my head as I write. Or blurt out singing. Either way works.) I then printed out the new scene and stuck it in the binder, and went back to fix the story where necessary to accommodate my new ending. This involved a lot of scrap paper hole punched and stuck in where appropriate, and lots of lines written over entire margins. I also seriously edited my new scene, since it was freshly written and needed some heavy tuning.

Once I got to the last page, I started to tear up. In fact, I get teary-eyed every time I get to the end of this book. (This means either it’s moving or I’m a complete sap, only time will tell.)

After that, I watched a movie and then cleaned up my office (please reference Clean Space, Fresh Perspective for more info on this, and if you’re feeling a tad more voyeuristic, you can learn about and see what my office space looks like in a guest post I did here), but from then on it was business. I proceeded to enter all the changes into the computer. This took a loooonnnggggg time (days), because along the way I found other little changes, and of course I did all of this knowing there were more to come. Over and over again. And again.

After the changes were in, Kyresa was down to about 101,000 words—I’d say half of this was due to the ending change and the other half to my aforementioned goals. But I still wasn’t done!

Now came the “find and replace” (F&R) game.

I did this with every word I’d noticed as an overused word when I edited, and with others I found through the SmartEdit software I mentioned in my last post. I searched for repeated actions (sighing, for example), passive voice (was, were, to be) and for words we humans tend to overuse without realizing (that, so, few, really, very, just, even, like, and many others). Changing these words didn’t always entail deleting or the simple use of the “replace” function; sometimes the whole sentence needed restructuring. In addition, I went through Every.Single.Adverb that SmartEdit recorded and evaluated its purpose, and ran the dreaded F&R one more time for the word as (which, by the way, I am now seeing everywhere, and it makes me want to throw things).

All of this cut Kyresa way down in unnecessary wordage—to 93,400 words, as a matter of fact!

(Oh my gawd I said “as” and I think I’m going to scream!)

After that, I did a happy dance. This was both to celebrate and to cheer me up, because every time I did the F&R function I went from the beginning to the end of the novel—meaning there were a lot of teary eyes again. Geez…

Lastly, I ran a spellcheck and a computer-version of proofread (which is hilarious for a fantasy novel, by the way: Wench. “Sexist expression. Avoid using this word.”), printed it out, and set it aside for a few days to stew before I proofread it for any glaring grammatical errors, typos, or other oddities that need cutting.

Another thing of note—and I want to mention this because I think it’s important no matter what you’re writing, be it a book, some poetry, or a paper for school—I resave about every 10 minutes, and each day I save the file with a new name. “Kyresa(updated 7-1-12),” then “Kyresa(updated 7-2-12),” etc., so that I can always go back if I change my mind on cutting a scene. And though I have a backup drive, I also email the file to myself every few days (because a backup drive is no good if your house burns down).

Sooooo…there you have it, my editing process. 🙂

Now I’m curious: what’s yours? Please share in the comment section below! I’m sure many of you have some great ideas that the rest of us would like to [steal] know about! Thanks for sharing, and happy editing!


Hacksaws, FRINGE, and Some Darn Good Books

One of the upsides to my current once-a-week blog schedule is that I’m finding myself stocked up on things to talk about! Picture me as the little kid with my cheeks poofed, holding my breath all week long to say something… 🙂

First item: Hacksaws

A hacksaw would be the metaphorical utility I’m using to edit the crap out of Kyresa. Somehow I’m still working on it (!), but I’m having a good time. I noticed at some point that Kyresa had started sighing too much. They say some of your traits appear in your characters, and I’m a sigher in real life—less because I’m a romantic than because I tend to over-analyze and think too hard—but this is clearly not an acceptable trait for a powerful, immortal Queen. Nope, nope, nope. So, we had a long pep talk, and now she’s a much stronger character. Phew!

I’d also like to share this nifty editing software my friend passed along, SmartEdit, which helps you track overused words, phrases, adverbs, etc. You name it, this program will find your errors and blow your mind with your redundancies. The catch? It only runs on PCs. I myself run on a Mac platform, but fortunately my netbook is a PC, so after a few file transfers…boom! I learned that my real-life tendency to smile all the time is getting a little old in my characters. “Find and replace” is currently my best friend, and I’m delighted to report that so far, between an ending change, some general cleanup, and my recent obsession with tightening up my manuscript, I’ve cut Kyresa from 111,400 words down to 98,400! I’m not done yet, but I’m thrilled with this progress. THRILLED.

Second item: FRINGE

I am fairly intrinsically motivated, but I like a good reward on occasion. My latest “gift” has been one episode of Fringe a night after I reach my editing quota. At 22 episodes per season and four episodes to catch up on, you might imagine this has taken me an extraordinarily long time—it has! But it’s been such a great reward, and now I can’t wait for the fifth and final season to start in the fall!

If you haven’t checked out this incredibly intelligent Sci-Fi series, please do. I’ve talked to a couple people who said they started but couldn’t get into it, and it’s my belief that Fringe takes a few (read: four or five) episodes to get completely sucked in—unless you’re a Sci-Fi person, in which case I suspect you’ll be in by Episode 2. Fringe follows the FBI’s Fringe Division, a super secret department responsible for solving unusual and otherworldly cases. They might involve radically unknown toxins, strange disasters, shape shifters and DNA mutations, telepathy, or even trips to another universe! In fact, there’s a whole element of this other universe flowing beautifully through Fringe, and it’s quite fascinating. What’s thrilling about this show is that it’s not just about the Sci-Fi elements (which are indeed spectacular) but also about the dynamic between the four main characters. Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham, a uniquely talented FBI agent who partners with an offbeat genius scientist, Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and his wickedly clever son, Peter (played by Joshua Jackson). Jasika Nicole plays Astrid Farnsworth, a big-hearted FBI agent who assists Walter in his research. Walter and Peter Bishop have a touching father-son relationship, which is complicated by a serious faux-pas Walter committed in the past. It is this very faux-pas that creates many of the Sci-Fi elements of the series (that I cannot describe without giving away the geniusness of this show), and which forces them to work through several definite tangles. Meanwhile, Astrid and Walter have a kind closeness, sharing some really lovely moments as she helps him—a once-committed, wild scientist—work through the cases. Anna Torv as Olivia is the most complex of all; she’s a strong agent who works through the cases with ease, but she must also shuffle through the trauma of her youth which makes her so essential to these cases. At first she comes off a bit flat, but as you go through the series—wow. Her range proves to be completely astounding as the story unfolds. As-tound-ing!

Add a little romance, some good special effects, and a bit of clever dialogue to these stellar characters and you have one of my favorite shows of all time. The only negative thing I can say is that the show ends after season 5. Boo!

Third Item: Darn Good Books

I finished a book and started a book this week. Currently, I’m about 100 pages into Stephen King’s On Writing, and it’s great. I can’t wait to share more after I’m done!

The book I finished is preparation for the fall semester, when I become the Math-English teaching hybrid. (I feel a Sci Fi story here. Truly.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is well-written and sweet, and narrated by Christopher John Francis Boone. Christopher is an autistic teen who leads you through his investigation of the “curious incident,” one that also happens to carry through the relationship between him and his father, as well as the connection between his parents. Christopher is an intelligent young man, and Haddon’s portrayal of his eccentricities is pure brilliance. Haddon worked with autistic individuals in his past, and his empathy shows on every page. Christopher is lovable, clever, and detailed, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in his adventure. It’s also a great experience to follow the mind of someone in his shoes—it really makes you reevaluate the way you look at the world. I highly recommend it!

All right, the little girl pushed her fingers into her cheeks, expelling all the intel she’d held for the week for this one information-packed blog post! 😉 Now time for some more editing.

Hacksaw at the ready!


Mi Casa Es Su Casa, or, a Bonus Post!

Yeah, yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t be back all that often while I’m editing, but after spending over seven hours focused on Kyresa today (woo hoo!), I decided that I ought to reward myself with a teeny tiny addendum post.

You may remember my post last week, Clean Space, Fresh Perspective; I went on a mad cleaning spree after being inspired by Anna Meade’s “A Room of My Own” series. Anna runs the lovely Yearning for Wonderland blog, and after seeing my post, she asked if I’d like to participate and share my room. I was of course delighted to join in!

If you’d like to learn more about where all my writing happens, you can do so here: My Room. (There’s even a picture!) A big thank you to Anna for inviting me to participate in the series. It was fun!

Also, after yesterday’s post, I decided I needed to seal in my reestablished confidence as an author…

So I ordered myself some business cards. 🙂

Have a great week, everyone!


Process, Self-Doubt, and…a Published Piece!

It’s been another solid week of editing…however, this week proved a bit more challenging for a handful of reasons. The first noticeable obstacle was the three-trip adventure to the mechanic for my mysteriously overheating car—sadly, this resulted in a loss of a lot of editing time, and also no verdict on the car (hmph). It also led to a bit of meandering around on foot and thinking, which then rushed me right into the monster obstacle of the week: a giant case of randomly and inconveniently induced self-doubt.

Generally I’m a pretty confident and ambitious person. I mean, it was only 8,000,000* changes, and my years performing circus led me to believe that I’m part Superwoman, so really, how hard could this be?

Ha.

I was editing, then I was up, then I was editing, then I was off in la-la land, then I was editing, and…well, you get the picture. Sure, I suppose I could attribute some of it to my self-diagnosed adult A.D.D., but as I stewed and fretted and wondered “Really, really, can I ever truly finish this book?”, I started thinking maybe it wasn’t the five-year-old trapped in my head after all.

I read some good blogs on getting motivated, and a great post on Letting it Go that I bookmarked and kept referencing (you should too). I had lunch with my talented author and graphic novelist friend MariNaomi, who handed me Stephen King’s On Writing (she’s also the third person to recommend this book to me). I made a deal with myself that I would definitely peruse this memoir right after I entered the 8,000,000* changes in my book but before I gave it a last touch-up read, since I might actually learn something helpful from Mr. King. And then when all that still didn’t seem to make me any calmer, I busted out my Kaiser medical handbook and learned how to belly breathe.

Sadly, all good monster stories tend to contain the really scary moment when the beast goes haywire. And that moment happened. Hard.

I happened to be on the phone with my cousin. I don’t usually like to refer to her as my cousin; she is more of a best friend than a relative, and she is also one of my treasured beta-readers/editors. She’s sassy and smart, and despite our familial connection, she can critically (but kindly) tear apart most any text I throw in front of her. We keep telling her husband that the two of us are going to quit our jobs so he can support us while I write in their basement and she edits for me full-time, but alas, he seems a little slow on follow-through…

All of this aside, the darling dear had something I really needed at that moment: patience and a good ear. I told her my frustrations—because “life” happened, I shelved this book so many times and for such long intervals (read: years) that my first novel had now been with me for the better part of two decades [belly breathe], and I have so many great ideas bouncing around and waiting for me to hurry up and finish that it was distracting and frustrating me [belly breathe], though of course I love the book I’ve been carrying around for more than half my life, but would I ever stop finding things to change on it [belly breathe!], because it simply feels so drastically different from the style I’ve been writing on the side for the last ten years, and how would that ever work? [BELLY BREATHE!]…Wah wah wah, cue violins, play a sad song, and then I dropped to the floor to belly breathe again.

After my cousin ascertained that I was indeed alive and breathing like a normal person, she said, in the wisest and calmest of voices, “Eva, you’re doing fine. It’s your first novel. Of course it’s going to be the hardest. So finish this edit, get it out there to some agents, and then feel good about it no matter what. You owe it to yourself to finish and move on.”

Before I knew it, I was on my feet with that last little sentence on a post-it hanging on my mirror (no I’m not kidding). I was ready to go full-tilt and finish this little baby.

And honestly, I realized the end is not so far away. In fact, here’s a pretty little visual for how many of the 8,000,000* changes I’ve entered:

So close!

I cooed to my cousin for about ten straight minutes with lots of thanks and a threat to send her cookies in the mail, and then I pulled out more pages to enter. Before I started, I checked my email and got the real kick in the pants to cheer up and get to work:

The wonderful anthology that Susi Holliday had worked and slaved over from April’s Once Upon a Time Flash Fiction Contest was in print and ready to order!!! I mean, could I get any more inspiration than that?!

So, in summary, I think I need to spout a few great lessons I learned here.

1. Surround yourself with good people.

2. Listen to the wise words of your cousin/friend.

3. Belly breathe. Often.

4. Don’t let the Self-Doubt Beast win when it comes to writing. So the book takes forever, and maybe it doesn’t get published, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. And if it doesn’t work, okay, move along. In fact,

5. “You owe it to yourself to finish it and move on.”

6. And finally, always celebrate good things—like, for example, my first ever published piece. Yippee!

If you would like your very own copy of this fantastic anthology, you can hop on over to Amazon to order it here: Once Upon a Time: A Collection of Unexpected Fairytales. Edited by S.J.I. Holliday and Anna Meade, this anthology contains 89 tales by brilliant authors on the theme of “Unexpected Fairytales,” and it’s only $3.70 plus shipping. The proceeds beyond production costs even go to charity!

So, I’m off to edit now, with a big smile on my face and no belly breathing necessary. And thanks to all of YOU for going on this journey with me. 🙂

*Special Note: A week later, I am still fessing up to my tendency to exaggerate, often with the number 8. But shhh, don’t tell, or I’ll have to pick another number. 😉


Clean Space, Fresh Perspective

It’s been one full week since I last posted, and it turns out, this time away is incredibly helpful! For those of you just tuning in, I called a Blog Time-Out last Sunday. It’s not entirely a hiatus—me not talking is about as likely as pigs flying while it’s raining cats and dogs on a very cold day in hell—but it is a temporary blogging slow-down while I focus on finally turning Kyresa, my “work in progress,” into a “completed work” instead.

So far, so good! I managed to edit for over 30 hours this week, and I’ve virtually reached my next step: entering all 8,000,000* of my changes into the computer for a final reread. I’ve always been partial to editing on paper, both because staring at a computer screen gives me a headache, and because I prefer being as hands-on as literally possible, but I’ll admit it does tend to lengthen the process. Still, I am far closer to “completed” than before. Hurray!

Last night, when I set my binder beside the keyboard to start entering said 8,000,000* changes, I realized that my desk had gotten completely out of control. I’ve always been a pretty neat person, but after spending seven weeks in a cast a couple years ago, I learned to loosen the reins a bit. This was a wonderful thing to learn because (1) I generally find I need to relax far more than I allow myself to do, and (2) writing is just plain more important than the dishes. While I still clean pretty regularly, I’ve definitely fallen into an old habit: in any given room, and on my desk, there are various piles of things I need to reference. Though I know exactly what is in each pile, I have nowhere to put the items in these piles. I’m sure several of you have this little habit; short of causing a tripping hazard in the middle of the night, it doesn’t seem like such a bad one to have.

But add to this that Anna Meade over at Yearning for Wonderland has been showcasing various author and bloggers’ writing spaces, as well as the glass of wine that was in my hand, and I pretty much lost it over the state of my desk. It didn’t matter that the desk—actually table, there are no drawers on this sad piece of furniture—also served as bill station, supply house, project table, bookshelf, computer hub, and writing place anymore…it had to be cleaned!

So naturally I swooped all my paperwork to the floor (just like in the movies) and started reorganizing. I’m not finished yet, but already, seeing the surface of the table without all the clutter is making me feel better. It has also inspired me to continue into the next stage of Kyresa‘s  final edit! Clean space, fresh perspective, finished project, and very soon, a return to my more regular blog schedule.

In the meantime, I’m going to need to figure out what to do with all the papers I dramatically knocked to the floor. My cat—usually a cuddly sweetheart who thinks she’s a dog—made clear in her extraordinarily devilish look that she has her own plan for them:

Sienna the Troublemaker. Sure…she doesn’t have any plans to mess with this paper stack. At all.

Oh dear…

I’ll be back probably next weekend, folks. Thanks for your patience as I finish this edit, and for reading!

(*Special note: I like to exaggerate. Often with the number 8.)


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